Like quite a few people in Nashville, Robert worked in restaurants while touring, recording music and chasing a double major in English and Philosophy. Unlike most people, he turned that last bartending gig into a management position at Germantown Café and gleaned everything he could about launching and owning a successful business.
“What I learned from Chris, Jay, and especially Greg was to not assume any success and make sure you work harder than the next guy. Greg was an operations master and he lived and breathed that place. He still does. If you are going to do something, do it fully. Dedicate.”
Inspired by their success, Robert began his own entrepreneurial journey in Nashville, where he produced and promoted local club shows featuring bands like The Weeks, Alabama Shakes, Moon Taxi, Margo Price, Wild Cub, Luella and The Sun, The Protomen, The Future, Chancellor Warhol, The Features, Five Knives, Blackfoot Gypsies and many, many, many more.
Then, in 2012, he launched his first creative company, Mountain, with Jacob Jones. After a year of working with brands like Tin Roof, Red Bull, Third Shift Lager, Wizard World Comic Con, Live on the Green, and more, he turned his sights back to logistics and began producing large-scale park and municipal events in partnership with brands.
“Jake and I worked really well together. There isn’t a better champion of doing your own thing than that guy. I learned quite a few things with him. Most importantly, knowing your superpower is more important than being all things to all people. At that time, I didn’t have the passion or knowledge to helm a creative company like that. We both knew it and parted on the best of terms and a glass of bourbon. We still work together on projects to this day.”
After Mountain, he launched The Company Nashville, providing turnkey operations, logistics, talent buying, media planning, media purchasing, social media marketing, and partnerships for independent events hosting anywhere from 1,000 to 40,000 people.
“After 2 years, I knew I reached the end of my full-time events career when I closed down Broadway on a Saturday night and filled it with 40,000 people. I wanted to own something more connected to my creative tendencies than my organizational ones. The curse of being right and left-brained is the boredom that comes with the corresponding success. I still love the sound of the music, but I started looking for something more focused. That’s when Mark [Mark Moseley of Music City Booking] introduced me to Angie Gore.”
In late 2014, he took the position of Director of Operations and Project Development at Kaleidoscope Media. During this time, he worked with clients ranging from local clothing designers and restaurants to Bonnaroo, TSA Precheck, and United Talent Agency. Robert also built competitive divisions within social media, web development, graphic design, and videography. In 2018, he earned two Emmy nominations for his video work with Addiction Campuses.
“It was a slog, and I loved every minute of it. Angie knows how to put someone through their paces and accepts no bullshit. I learned more in my 4 years there than in all my years of school and previous work combined. Every day was like drinking from a firehose though, and eventually, I knew I needed to find a less stressful approach. There are only so many 20-hour workdays in a person. I probably aged a decade there.”
In mid-2018 he took the position of Chief Operations Officer at Grayscale Marketing. In 18 months he staffed the company from 4 to 10, drove revenue from $150,000 to $750,000, and crafted structural processes to manage their multiple clients. He built a project management process and introduced new services such as Public Relations, Publicity, Videography, as well as Media Planning and Purchasing.
“I love the team that I helped build there. Helping Tim transition from a sponsorship and social media-oriented company into a full-fledged integrated marketing company is one of the most fun achievements in my life. I realized that all he needed was a little structure and that little company would thrive. Tim’s background in artist management made for an interesting experience and I definitely learned a thing or two about how to handle staff while I was there. But at some point, I realized it was finally time to captain my own ship.”
In 2019 Robert founded Hannibal Creative.
“I want to build a company that I would want to work at. I want to be the type of leader that I would want to follow. I don’t want to say yes to things because cash flow is a problem and I don’t want to hire people just to send out a press release.
We are purposefully keeping our agency small. I don’t need a huge overhead to draft a strategy for you. Also, the amount of talented freelancers in the world is ridiculous. There is no reason for a company like Hannibal to take on a salary burden that we have to mark up to the client in order to make a profit. Pay us to ideate and strategize. Then we will work with you to find the right people to execute.
We are also building a fair company. Every member of the staff gets paid the same salary, including me. Every teammate gets an equal profit share, including me. In a true team, everyone pulls their weight and should be rewarded the same. Every person on the team has an equal say in every decision from what clients we accept to who the new hires will be. And everyone can be voted off the island.
Title means nothing, effort means everything.
I have been doing this a while now and I have been lucky to work with some amazing companies and brands. There is no need to bullshit if you have a clear conversation with the client and actually dig into what they want and how to deliver it. Good work isn’t hard. I think a lot of agencies focus too much on scaling they forget the client’s needs. The only reason we are at the table is that you, the client, need us to find a way or make one. Let’s go!”